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at that moment—"we shall be changed.” He made the same distinction in the 51st verse: “we shall not all sleep,”—not all die, or sleep in Jesus,—"but we shall all be changed,”—whether sleeping or waking: "the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed, for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality;" and when this shall be done—the dead raised incorruptible, and we that are alive changed—“then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Now, when is this? You will learn by referring to the 23d
, ? verse: “Every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits;" —who hath already put on immortality—“afterward they that are Christ's at his coming; then cometh the end,”* that is, the end of this dispensation of our Lord's present rule—of the period for which he is sitting at the right hand of God: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until” — when?_"until thine enemies shall be made thy footstool.” When all are put down, then is the end, when thou wilt leave my right hand, and sit on thine own throne. That is the end here intended: when he shall have delivered up the kingdom which he at present enjoys,—where he wields the authority, the universal kingdom of God, the invisible kingdom of providence. He has now overcome and sat down on the Father's throne: when all things shall be subdued to him, he will leave that, and sit down upon his own,t reigning in mount Zion and in Jerusalem: “when he hath put down all rule, and all authority and power, for he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” So it is said, “Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” But how is he an enemy? Only as applied to the members of Christ's body. Death, as it regards his enemies, is his friend-his messenger-his agent; but as it regards the members of his body, it is his enemy, holding them in subjection. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death, for God hath put all things under Christ's feet; only Christ now waits on the throne of the Father's kingdom, till the time shall come for putting an end to that last enemy of his, which is death. Of course, when it is said that all things are put under Christ, God manifest in the flesh--the invisible Jehovah is excepted. And when the Lord Jesus shall (in the exercise of his present almighty authority on the Father's throne) have subdued all things unto himself, then shall he be prepared to leave the Father's throne, and set up his own singdom upon the earth as the second Adam; himself, in manifested manhood, subject to God, who hath thus put all things in subjection to the glorified Man, that the invisible Jehovah may be, all in all, the acknowledged head of him who is the constituted head of all things; for the head of all creation is Christ, and the head of Christ is the invisible Jehovah in Trinity. It is, then, when the name Jesus shall cease to be at the Father's right hand, and shall have returned to this earth in like manner as he went away; and when the resurrection of the members of Jesus shall have taken place,—then shall this saying be fulfilled, “Death is swallowed up in victory," and then this prophecy of Isaiah shall be completed.
* The original expressions are exactly rendered by our words afterwards and then. First Christ himself, afterwards (euta) they that are Christ's at his coming, then (eita) the end, &c.
+ Rev. iii. 21.
This mode, my Brethren, of viewing this passage of the 15th chapter of Corinthians, which is felt to be difficult,* harmonizes well with the context, for it makes the whole strain, to the 28th verse, to proclaim the resurrection of the saints; it makes it to have for its object the declaration of the coming of the Lord at the end of the present dispensation, and of the manifestation of his members, delivered from death. So that what follows is found strictly in place: “Else what shall they do which are baptised for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptised for the dead, and why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
But to return to the prophecy. "And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees; of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” It is not denied that the glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ, as now proclaimed in the preaching of the Gospel, supply a spiritual feast, to which this language may most appropriately be adapted. Blessed indeed are they who taste, by faith, that the Lord is gracious. Rich and precious beyond expression is the feast of his pardoning and sympathising love to every quickened sinner. The spouse in the Canticles proclaims it to be better than wine, and the Psalmist expatiates upon its sweetness as exceeding that of honey and the honeycomb. But in contemplating this
prophecy, and anticipating its fulfilment at the period pointed out by the Apostle, we are compelled to look beyond the announcements of the Gospel, and the spiritual richness of Christain experience, for the full interpretation of this verse.
It is the reiterated testimony of Scripture, that when Israel shall be restored, the word of the Lord shall go forth from mount Zion, and the law from Jerusalem. The waters of life
* But many millennarians explain it differently—and this interpretation of the passage is not essential to their general views.
shall go forth and heal the nations, and ten men out of every nation shall lay hold of the skirt of a Jew at that time and say,
a “We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you:” and all shall go to Jerusalem to the feast of tabernacles, and see the Lord of Hosts manifested in the human nature of Jesus reigning in mount Zion.* This is the feast that shall be made on the mountain on that day, for all people,-of which the Gospel feast in the hearts of the elect is the type and earnest.
But with respect to Babylon, I must again claim your attention for a few moments, in order to make the early part of this subject still more clear. During the Old Testament dispensation, the people of God wore a strictly national aspect. In habits, manners, worship, and residence, they were totally different from all other nations—they occupied outwardly and manifestly a distinct country. The great and successful persecutors and oppressors of the people of God wore also a national aspect. First they were the Egyptians, then the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, then the Persians, then the Grecians, and subsequently the Romans. But among them all BABYLON was pre-eminent:t so much so, as to give a general name to the whole persecuting power. Thus, as we have seen, she was not only spoken of by the prophets, living during the period of her power and tyranny, but in anticipation by those who lived long before her glory commenced.
Under the New Testament dispensation the people of God wear a two-fold aspect, national and spiritual,-national as regards their outward privileges, spiritual as regards their religious character; the great oppressor, the persecutor, the successful opponent of the people of God, wears, in like manner, a two-fold aspect,-national and anti-spiritual,-national, in opposition to their outward privileges, to their properties, and even their lives; and anti-spiritual, in her deadly hostility to THE TRUTH, the life and soul of the church of God. fection of this hostility to outward privilege and spiritual truth, is found in the Romish system, which is a mixture of worldly policy and anti-scriptural falsehood. This applies not merely to the outward letter of that system. The mischief is at work in some degree or modification wherever there is worldly pride, hatred of the truth, persecution for the truth's sake, intolerance, luxury, heedlessness about eternity, wherever self is worshipped instead of God,—wherever there is the spirit that was in Babylon, prompting her to say, "I am a lady of
* Isaiah ii. 2–4. Zech. viii. 20—23, and xiv. 16.
+ Its king was the head of gold of the image, (Dan. ii. 31–38,) and as being the principal or leading kingdom, may properly give its name to the whole.
kingdoms, and I shall be a lady for ever,"_wherever this usurps the heart individually, or the authority nationally, there is the virus (or venom) of the Babylonish system: but the perfection of that system is found specially at Rome; and there. fore we find the persecutor of the people of God is set forth under the New Testament, by the name of Babylon, and by the description of a city standing on seven hills, which is a description of Rome. The language of St. John in the Revelations, upon this subject, is of almost historical plainness. The name of Babylon has been only transferred from the Old Testament, as a standing title, descriptive of the persecutors of the people of God, just as Cæsar was for the Roman emperors. It was a symbol, a patronymic for all persecutors; and so we find them denominated by that title hundreds of years after the literal Babylon was no more.
The language of the Old Testament, also, applied to the literal Babylon, furnished a mode of speech which was adopted by the Apostles under the New, to set forth the anti-spiritual oppressors of the people of God under the present dispensation: so that the language applied to the literal Babylon is now transferable to the Romish system, wherever found; that is, to all opposers, neglecters, and scorners of the truth and the people of God; while the language applied to the literal Israel, continues applicable to that nation still beloved for the father's sake, and at the same time becomes transferable to the spiritual Israel, the chosen of God gathered out of every kindred, and nation, and tongue, and people, and grafted into Israel's olive tree.
With these observations before us, the parallel between the prophecy in this and the following chapter, and that in St. John, is most striking. The events predicted by the Prophet, and grouped together for synchronical fulfilment, are-1. The destruction of Babylon, as we have seen in our text, and more largely in the 24th chapter. 2. The coming of the Lord: “Behold the Lord cometh out of his place, to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” In connection with this he says: 3. “In that day the Lord with his sore, and great, and strong sword shall punish Leviathan, the piercing serpent, even Leviathan, that crooked serpent, and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea." These are the Scriptural appellations for Satan. A third event, therefore, here predicted, is the peculiar punishment of the devil at that time. . And, 4, the resurrection of the people of God; "he will swallow up death in victory.” Now turn and look at the terribly convincing parallel, in
the 18th, 19th, and the beginning of the 20th chapters of Revelations. 1. Does the Prophet say the city shall be made a heap? Hear what the Apostle says: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul beast, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” He goes on to describe her, calling the people of God to come out; and says, at the 7th verse, “How much she hath glorified herself
, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord that judgeth her. And the kings of the earth who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas! alas! that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. And again, in the 20th verse: “Rejoice over her, thou heaven and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her. And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers and musicians, and of pipers and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of the millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee; for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived." Mark what was found in her: "In her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” The Assyrian, the Babylonian, and the Persian had shed the blood of the prophets, and since then, Rome has been drunk with the blood of the saints. Such is the parallel in the Apocalypse of the destruction of Babylon, as set forth in the prophecy.
2. Now look at the parallel to the declaration of the Lord's coming. Does the prophet say, behold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth? Read what the Apostle says. Turn to the 19th chapter, the 11th verse: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True; and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name